With all of the problems and struggles with flights lately, it is time for a feel-good airline story. Last Friday, American Airlines celebrated both diversity and empowering women with a historic flight crew of all African-American women. The video below tells the story.
It Started 100 Years Ago With Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman became the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1921. American Airlines said in a statement “She bravely broke down barriers within the world of aviation and paved the way for many to follow”.
In 1926, Bessie purchased a used Curtiss JN-4 (Jenny) airplane. In preparation for a parachute jump at an airshow, Bessie took off to check the terrain by air the day before the airshow. About 10 minutes after takeoff at about 3,000 feet above the ground, the airplane went a diving spin. Both she and William Wills were killed upon impact. She was only 34 years old at the time of the accident. The crash was the tragic result of a mechanic leaving a wrench in the plane which jammed the flight controls.
The Historic Flight
Last Friday, American Airlines flew a flight from Dallas TX to Phoenix AZ with an all-African American, female crew. On board this flight was Bessie Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman. Gigi said, “I am grateful for American Airlines to give us this opportunity to highlight my great aunt’s accomplishments in the field of aviation”. Commanding this special flight was Capt. Beth Powell.
Empowering Women In The Skies
American Airlines is being intentional in its efforts to diversify the flight deck. Black women have been notably underrepresented in the aviation industry, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% of the commercial airline industry. Through the American Airlines Cadet Academy, the airline is committed to expanding awareness of and increasing accessibility to the pilot career within diverse communities.
This is an amazing story of diversity taking place in the world of aviation. American Airlines is not only committed to diversity but they demonstrated their commitment by putting together this all-African American, all-female flight crew. Truly, this is an airline feel-good story when so much of the aviation news is negative.